4 Compelling Stories From Home, Away & Far Far Away
By Robert Foran III
ALASKA — From alaskastar.com
Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan used to refer to Chugiak-Eagle River as “the breakaway republic,” and for decades residents of the northern reaches of the municipality have seen their dreams of independence remain unfulfilled — enter Eaglexit.
“We have put together a group of people who are seriously contemplating a detachment of Assembly District 2,” said Michael Tavoliero, chair of the newly formed nonprofit whose name is a nod to the “Brexit” movement to separate Great Britain from the European Union. Tavoliero said the new group has a website and board officers, and plans to hold an educational meeting May 3 at the Eagle River Lions Club from 7-9 p.m. He’s hoping for a big turnout.
“We’d like to involve the entire community to come and listen to what we have to say,” he said.
An Eagle River exit strategy has been sought by some in the area since the communities were incorporated into the Anchorage borough in the 1960s. In 1974, residents voted for separation and elected their own mayor and Assembly, but the effort was ruled unconstitutional by the Alaska Supreme Court and Chugiak-Eagle River was incorporated into the Municipality of Anchorage. In the 1980s, Fred Dyson helped lead an independence effort he called “the Great Divorce,” another unsuccessful attempt at secession from the city nine miles to the south.
Supporters of separation argue the Chugiak-Eagle River area has cultural, political, economic and demographic differences from the rest of Anchorage that can’t be ignored. They believe the area doesn’t have a loud enough voice in municipal politics and in matters related to public schools.
“Historically, the citizens of District 2 have been excluded from the MOA’s power structures. They have been repeatedly thwarted in their efforts to decentralize land-use decisions in their local neighborhoods, including those involving residential, commercial and industrial interests,” the group wrote in a “white paper” Eaglexit posted to its website this week. “These citizens consider detachment from the MOA a strategy to advance their vision of a well-managed community.”
NATIONAL — From travelandleisure.com
On select days each year, America’s national parks and sites waive their entrance fees to allow all to enjoy nature at its finest. April 20th was the latest fee-free day across the country’s national parks to kick off National Park Week, which runs from April 20–28.
National Park Week is an ideal time to head to popular parks such as Grand Canyon National Park or Canyonlands National Park, where special activities are held to celebrate.
Themed days occur throughout the week, including National Junior Day (when kids of all ages can earn junior ranger badges) and Transportation Tuesday, when you can learn about the transportation innovations that have helped visitors over the years experience the parks. Sites will also be hosting individual events, including lessons on how to pitch your own tent at the Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey and Easter egg hunts and face painting at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C. Visitors can also take part in activities like painting with artists at Arches National Park in Utah, sunset hikes in Death Valley National Park, and spotting tadpoles and frogs and enjoying roasted marshmallows at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia.
To get the most out of National Park Week, Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation (the official charity of America’s national parks) recommends calling local visitor centers to see if special activities are planned and to get tips on the best spots to avoid the crowds.
The Park Service will also waiving fees on Aug. 25, Sept. 28, and Nov. 11 this year.
INTERNATIONAL — From cbsnews.com
A major fire erupted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15th. The cathedral’s rector said a “computer glitch” might have been behind the blaze.
A police official said investigators think a short-circuit most likely caused the fire.
About 40 people have been questioned by investigators. Speaking during a meeting of local business owners, rector Patrick Chauvet did not elaborate on the exact nature of the glitch, adding that “we may find out what happened in two or three months.”
French newspaper Le Parisien has reported that a fire alarm went off at Notre Dame shortly after 6 p.m. Monday but a computer bug showed the fire’s location in the wrong place. The paper reported the flames may have started at the bottom of the cathedral’s giant spire and may have been caused by an electrical problem in an elevator. Chauvet said there were fire alarms throughout the building, which he described as “well protected.”
The fire burned through the network of enormous centuries-old oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling, dangerously weakening the building. The surrounding neighborhood was blocked off as stones continued to tumble off the sides of the cathedral after the devastating blaze. So far, over a billion dollars have been pledged to help restore the landmark.
OUT OF THIS WORLD — From nytimes.com
Astronomers announced on Wednesday that at last they had captured an image of the unobservable: a black hole, a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it.
For years, and for all the mounting scientific evidence, black holes have remained marooned in the imaginations of artists and the algorithms of splashy computer models of the kind used in Christopher Nolan’s outer-space epic “Interstellar.” Now they are more real than ever.
“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” said Shep Doeleman, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and director of the effort to capture the image, during a Wednesday news conference in Washington, D.C.
The image, of a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle deep in the heart of a galaxy known as Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away from Earth, resembled the Eye of Sauron, a reminder yet again of the implacable power of nature. It is a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity.
To capture the image, astronomers reached across intergalactic space to Messier 87, or M87, a giant galaxy in the constellation Virgo. There, a black hole several billion times more massive than the sun is unleashing a violent jet of energy some 5,000 light-years into space.